At last, the first drops have fallen and the change in our gardens is instant. Let’s hope we get another shower soon to keep our gardens looking at their best. Yet we are still not out of the woods in regards to water shortages and incompetence from our municipalities and water department. One can rant on for hours about the above but I feel that it is better that we rather focus on the water aspects that we have actual control over.
This water-wise guide will allow you to still enjoy your garden to the fullest. Follow our tips for a more water wise garden, that will save water and encourage healthy plants. In this article, we share our advice on improving your soil to retain water better. Some tips on water wise plant choices and gardening tips on when and how to water your garden.
Soil care tips to a more water wise garden.
- Improving the quality of your soil is key to enhance its water retention properties. Compost and mulch will be your best tools.
- You can easily cut down your current watering by half using mulch effectively, learn more here.
- Studies and experience have shown that tilling the soil can even be detrimental to the health of the soil. Tilling disrupts the beneficial microbes in the top layer of your soil. Therefore it is best to practise no till gardening and too keep on adding organic material from the top.
- Mulching and applying no till gardening also helps prevent that hard crust from forming on top of your soil.
- With bigger plants it is best to mound up the soil around the base, creating a basin that one can fill up water and have it soak through to the roots.
Plant choices for a water wise garden
- Plant water wise and indigenous plants where possible. Indigenous plants will require less water once established and will promote a haven for wildlife.
- With leafy veggies such as lettuce rather plant them in a semi-shade area. This will allow you to water less often.
- Think of hydro-zoning your garden. This means grouping plants with similar water need together. Need more info, follow this link.
- Think of planting very thirsty plant in containers. This will allow you to move them out of intense heat to save on watering.
Water wise gardening tips on when and how to water your garden.
- If the soil in the root zone is dry and crumbly.
- Water less frequently but with more water at a time; thus allowing the soil to dry out in between watering.
- Water before 10:00 and after 16:00.
- Automatic watering systems should be adjusted according to the season.
- Generally, the bigger and softer the leaf the more water the plant will need.
- Flowers and vegetables need a short frequent watering whilst shrubs and trees need deeper but less frequent watering.
- Wilting can be caused by overwatering, always feel the soil around a suspect plant. Only water if the soil is dry.
I know some of the advice doesn’t fit in with the current water restrictions we are facing. To me, the conversation should rather be around responsible water use in all spheres and not just the singling out of gardens as a waste of water. I personally believe that gardeners are more conscious of the value of water and its importance than the general public. Let’s use our common sense when it comes to water usage and try and save as much as we can while we are at it.
This is a list of water wise plants to use in your garden: A list of drought-tolerant or xerophytic plants for xeriscaping in South Africa